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  • WHO says 'comprehensive information' needed to confirm pneumonia pathogen
    Date:2020-01-10 
    A cluster of pneumonia cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province may be due
    to a newly emerging member of the family of viruses that caused the deadly SARS and MERS outbreaks, World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.
    While the United Nations health agency said it needed more comprehensive information to confirm precisely the type of pathogen causing the infections, it said a new coronavirus was a possibility.
    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Some of the virus types cause less severe disease, while some - like the one that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) - are far more severe.
    "The initial information about the cases of pneumonia in Wuhan...pointed to a coronavirus as a possible pathogen causing this cluster," the WHO said in a statement.
    It added that since Chinese authorities have done laboratory tests and eliminated the SARS coronavirus and the MERS one as possible causes, as well as flu, bird flu, adenovirus and other common respiratory pathogens, "therefore, a
    novel coronavirus could not be ruled out.''
    The WHO noted that coronaviruses emerge periodically - including in 2002 to cause SARS and in 2012 to cause MERS.
    It said that according to Chinese authorities, the virus
    behind the Wuhan cases can cause severe illness in some patients and does not appear to pass easily from person to person.
    "More comprehensive information is required to confirm the pathogen, as well as to better understand the epidemiology of the outbreak, the clinical picture, the investigations to determine the source, modes of transmission, extent of infection, and the countermeasures implemented," the WHO said.


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